RE: Losing my profession?

Subject: RE: Losing my profession?
From: Warren_Singer -at- vocaltec -dot- com
To: "TECHWR-L" <techwr-l -at- lists -dot- raycomm -dot- com>
Date: Thu, 31 May 2001 12:16:01 +0200

Doesn't this song sound familiar?

That's me in the corner
That's me in the spotlight
Losing my profession
Trying to keep a point of view
And I don't know if I can do it
Oh no I've said too much
I haven't said enough.

I guess he's talking about burnout, loss of faith and motivation.
I don't know what the "big picture" shows about the trends in this
profession (technical writing), but it appears that after a few years,
many technical writers re-educate and move on to other careers or
opportunities within the industry, using the experience they've gained as
a bootstrap to their new tasks. A case in point - our previous VP of
Marketing was originally a technical writer. This migration leaves a
shortage in skilled technical writers, which helps push up demand and

So what do you do if you're stuck in a rut and don't know where to go from

The way I see things, there are several options open for career
enhancement. You could try a managerial position - you get paid well,
you're treated with some respect and you call the shots. You could try
specializing in a specific aspect of technical writing and become an
"expert" in that area, such as PDF production. Many of the experts I know
charge top rates for consultations and regularly organize international
courses on their area of expertise. They are in constant demand. The third
option, which is also very common, is to move from technical writing into
a related field - Training, Marketing Communications (Marcom), Presales
etc. As a technical writer, you probably have most of the skills required.

But what if you're sick of the entire industry - the stress, the hype, the
bullshit - and want a complete change?

You could try being a farmer and growing vegetables. You could lock
yourself in a room for six months and write a best-selling novel. You
could take off a year to rejuvenate, collect unemployment and spend the
time at the beach, reading trashy novels. If you have the money, you could
take a tour of the world and see what's out there, beyond the narrow
confines of your small cubicle.

But seriously, I don't think burnout and the feeling of being
unappreciated are unique to our profession. The chances are good that many
engineers or programmers also face problems with repetitive, uncreative
jobs, projects that go nowhere, pet projects that are killed because of
lack of funding or because the product is not selling, constant internal
restructuring and political infighting within a company, and a constant
move from job to job. After a few years of this, anyone would feel
burnout. I am sure that the trend here mirrors the trend in technical
writing - either to migrate upwards to a managerial position, to
specialize, or to more into other areas, such as product management and
marketing management.

Warren Singer
Documentation Manager
VocalTec Communications Ltd.
Phone: (direct) 972-9-9707773
Fax: 972-9-951-5307
Email: warren_singer -at- vocaltec -dot- com


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